NM sheriff's sergeant struck on snowy highway

Associated Press Updated: December 5, 2013 at 8:46 pm • Published: December 5, 2013 0

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A storm system swept through parts of New Mexico on Thursday and dumped up to 6 inches of snow across the state, closing some schools and causing dangerous driving conditions and crashes, including one that critically injured a sheriff's sergeant.

New Mexico State Police said Sandoval County sheriff's Sgt. Robert Baron, 47, was transported to University of New Mexico Hospital after he was struck by a vehicle while directing traffic on Interstate 25 near the San Felipe Pueblo.

Baron was listed in critical condition Thursday evening. Sheriff Doug Wood and other members of the force were standing vigil with Baron's wife and 10-year-old son as the sergeant remained in a medically induced coma.

The moderate snowfall overnight struck I-25 near Raton in northern New Mexico, resulting in a warning to drivers from the state Department of Transportation.

Several crashes were reported on I-40 east of Albuquerque due to weather, and the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department discouraged motorists from traveling in the area.

National Weather Service forecasters said snowfall accumulations in some areas could reach 6 to 8 inches. Torrance County and north toward Las Vegas were expected to be the hardest-hit areas.

The weather forced school closures in Santa Fe and in Albuquerque's eastern mountains. Schools in other municipalities, like Las Vegas, N.M., opted for a two-hour delay.

In Placitas, a small mountain hamlet next to the Sandia Mountains, motorists slugged through icy roads and low visibility as moderate winds blew dusty snow across its main highway. That didn't stop Denise Miller, 61, from going on her regular morning jog through the town.

"I love it," she said while waving to passing motorists. "Doesn't bother me at all."

The cold front also brought frigid temperatures that were expected to drop into the teens in central New Mexico and single digits in towns like touristy Taos to the north. More snow was expected Saturday and Sunday in the northern and western region of the state.

Forecasters said the harsh cold weather will continue into next week for much of New Mexico. They said temperatures can be expected to be up to 25 degrees below normal and urged residents to watch pipes for possible freezing.

The storm came after the state was hit last month with a deadly snow system that claimed the lives of at least three people.

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Follow Russell Contreras at http://twitter.com/russcontreras .

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